With Paris Fashion Week still on our radar, we are looking for less ordinary places to keep us in the fantasy mood that fashion always brings. With that in mind, we packed away our fashion-week-friendly flats and donned our glass slippers to traipse around the Canton de Vaud region of Switzerland and seek out the magestic places in this area so packed full of natural beauty and high culture, it makes us swoon like fairy tale princessess...
Fairy tales come alive.
The Vaud region of Switzerland adorns the north side of Lake Leman, informally known as Lake Geneva, and with it’s stunning backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of the Alps, it’s a sure hit for all the senses. The fresh air of this region, the mesmerising views, the silence of nature is a tranquil experience. Yet when it’s festival season and the famous Montreux Jazz Festival welcomes its icons and the crowd goes wild, the area transforms into a wild haven of music lovers. This is an area of intense beauty – from the vines in the Lavaux vineyards to the historic Chillon castle. And then your sense of taste kicks in to appreciate Canton de Vaud ; the taste of the milk chocolate discovered in Vevey in the 1800’s, the dense Swiss cheese, the juicy grapes and even the local catch of the day from the lake.
It is here, where some of Switzerland’s most fashionable people live, where fashion is part of everyday living – for visitors as much as for residents – and the best part? The grand hotels of the region are just as fabulous.
La Femme takes you on a little fairy tale tour to discover the magical palaces of travelling legend.
“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.” -Edward Flaherty
The Royal Savoy Lausanne
With its day-appropriate cuts and subdued shimmers, Paco Rabanne’s latest collection elegantly winked at today’s office culture. With its futuristic fabrics, the designer’s line is our pick for your packing list when staying at Royal Savoy Lausanne. There, rooms are decorated with calming hues of ocean blues, warm whites and greys and their floor-to-ceiling mirrored bathrooms are fitting to the tones the small design house committed itself to this season.
Its fully tech-savvy rooms with iPad controls for lights, curtains and, basically, every function you need, this luxury hotel hits the right mark with young sophisticates. Each room’s balcony can be closed off from onlookers with a touch of a button; it’s details like these, where in today’s culture of seen and be seen 24/7, privacy is valued, which nods to a more affluent way of life. The Royal Savoy overlooks the waters of Lake Geneva and its stunning views from the hotel rooftop makes anyone feel as sparkly as the surface of the lake itself.
The original hotel resembles a Disney castle, where with Swiss craftsmanship, the age-old architecture has been translated into a modern-day structure with warmth at its core. The new addition is an oblong structure in the garden and houses more rooms and the hotel’s penthouse with 360-degree views on the top floor and The Royal Spa sunken in the garden grounds. The spa is a sure hit for deep relaxation, with a ladies only section for more privacy. The hotel’s restaurant, Brasserie du Royal, is incredibly romantic, with its modern, violet-hued chandeliers and wall frescoes of ancient peoples.
Le Fairmont Montreux Palace
Where Paco Rabanne made riveting statements with futuristic materials, Ann Demeulemeester mixed vintage garments with classic lace. Her starched and moulded lace ensembles hint to a party girl pur sang, artfully put together to make an entrance in a pensive mood. It is as if the elegant style features of the Le Fairmont Montreux Palace set the tone for Demeulemeester’s sophisticated collection, where millennials feel just as at ease with the past as with the present for all their Instagram posts. Unravelling combinations of velvets in darker natural tones and diluted pastels of fluttering silks mixed up with monochromatic palettes seeking romantic story elements – without doubt something to add to the armoire for any belle of the ball. The designer’s romanticism is a perfect, match as you walk down the Palace’s wide hallways and symmetrical, tapestry-draped stairs.
Rooms are grand, with views over the hotel’s gardens, over the serene waters of Lake Geneva and in the distance, the Alps, with its hidden Evian springs. The room’s marble bathrooms with chrome detailing, an elegant desk to note down inspiration as it comes, all add to the charm of the Palace. The lavish bed – with crispy white linens sits in the middle of the room, facing the romantic wood-framed balcony is reminiscent of its Belle Époque history. Mossy greens and botanical tints are the undertones of bright yellow draperies on outside windows, slightly overdone; yet in fashion there’s no such thing. The grand ballrooms are classy settings for evening events, with lavish domed ceilings and impressively large mirrors to reflect each sparkle and stylish detailing. The Palace’s ballrooms are usually booked for weddings and are perfect for a bride’s grand entrance with her sparkling entourage.
Lausanne Palace & Spa
A sure winner for the glam-de-la-glam traveller, Lausanne Palace & Spa is located just near Lausanne city centre and its charismatic hilltop promenade. This grand hotel has received many an accolade by past royalty, movie stars and fashion icons alike. Coco Chanel called it her home until she passed away, living in a private suite (now called the Coco Chanel suite) with full views over the lake and grand walk-in closets befitting the iconic designer. Her reputation for accepting no less than the best is why her name is still attached to the suite. With his ever-so-cool suit ensembles, we think Elie Saab would have been Chanel’s pick this fashion season. Saab’s classy embellished dresses won him a grand – yet slightly commercial – entrance with his dark fabrics and utterly romantic cuts. His enchanted gowns and layers of ruffles and tulle whirled along the stage as if models were in a rush to make it home before midnight.
A home away from home, Lausanne Palace on the hill is the perfect place for fairy tale romanticism. The dark hues of Saab’s collection would have been a sure hit in the dark wood panelled hallways of the grand hotel, picking up tones from the rich carpets adorning the floors. Subtle rays of colours from the stained windows would highlight undertones of Saab’s line, sharing an abiding resemblance to the Suites’ colour palettes as if part of a bigger fashion plan – to create that perfect match of enlightenment and creativity.
Capturing the essence of sophistication and style, Le Beaux Rivage, meaning “beautiful shore”, could be classed the front-row-of-the-show of travel destinations. The grass lawns and suave entrance of the luxury hotel grabs the attention of even the most seasoned travellers. Classical details of brass lanterns and timelessly decorated balustrades overlooking the inlayed floors of the grand lobby are equally inspiring. Beautifully decorated restaurants (five to be exact), a charismatic bar – with a desirable collection of signed pictures of many a movie star – and a timeless lunchroom with arched windows facing the lake, all make Le Beaux Rivage Palace a ‘des res’ address in Lausanne. The place where you could picture Sonia Rykiel putting together her ruffled and embroidered peasant dresses and quirky pieces.
As if daytime attire needed a minimalistic approach and evening dresses were allowed to overpower from top to bottom. Here, in the beautifully decorated rooms, soft-toned wallpaper adorns the recently renovated walls and an uncluttered palette of colours resemble the type of tones seen in the downstairs ballrooms’ frescoes. The masterpiece bathrooms with mirrored windows which capture the distant views of nature – as well as the television screen on the bedroom wall – are so beautiful, it’s as if they’re only used as a decorative piece, rather than also serving a practical function.
The carefully chosen embroidered materials adorning the original furniture in Beau Rivage’s lavish suites, could just as well be the décor for Rykiel’s silk bed capes meant to be merely draped over the edge of the bed as a fashion statement.